Why Toronto's 'dancing crossing guard' can't get compensation after getting injured in hit and run

Mischelle Squire says she’s been denied compensation for loss of earnings after being hit by a driver while on the job last June, and staying in hospital for weeks.

Mischelle Squire was forced to miss work after she was struck on the job last June

Mischelle is shown wearing her bright yellow crossing guard vest, striking a dancing pose.
Mischelle Squire, 50, was known as the dancing crossing guard at John Ross Robertson Junior Public School in Toronto. She says she still suffers from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder after being hit by a truck driver last June. (Submitted by Mischelle Squire)

A popular North York crossing guard says she's been denied compensation for lost pay despite having to miss weeks of work after she was hit by a driver in a four-by-four truck last June. 

Mischelle Squire, 50, was known as the dancing crossing guard because she would dance while on the job at John Ross Robertson Junior Public School, located near Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue West, where she was stationed for two years. 

She's no longer able to dance because she suffers from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the hit and run collision, she told CBC Toronto.

"To be functional right now, I'm on about seven different pills," Squire said. "Once I get home, I have to take them immediately or else I'm not mobile."

On the morning of June 13, 2022, a truck driver approached Squire's crosswalk while she was accompanying some children through the intersection. She says the driver was impatient and began swearing at her. Then, she says,  he drove through the crosswalk and hit her, injuring her back and one of her legs. Then, the driver fled the scene.

Squire is shown in the hospital, wearing pyjamas and a face mask. She's using a walker to get around.
Squire says the pain got so bad that she was hospitalized for two months in the fall of 2022. (Submitted by Mischelle Squire)

Paramedics rushed Squire to hospital, where an emergency doctor told her to take some time off to recover. She returned to work four days after being told she wouldn't be paid for any additional time off. Then, in October, Squire was hospitalized due to escalating pain that she says is related to the hit and run.

"The pain just wouldn't leave," she said, adding she feared she was going to be permanently disabled.

She stayed in the hospital for almost two months.

That's when she contacted the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to apply for loss-of-earnings coverage. On Dec. 5, WSIB initially approved Squire's entitlement to health-care benefits, which cover things like physiotherapy, and loss of earnings for her time off in June but not for her time off beginning in October. 

In a letter obtained by CBC Toronto, a WSIB representative told Squire there was no medical documentation to prove she was unable to work during that time or that her pain was related to the collision in June.

A day later, in another letter from the WSIB, Squire was told she wouldn't receive any loss-of-earning coverage for either time period. She has since appealed this decision with her case manager but to no avail. 

Dr. Andrea Furlan, a chronic pain specialist at the University Health Network's Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, says chronic pain months after a collision is not uncommon, but it's also often difficult to find out what's causing it. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Dr. Andrea Furlan, a chronic pain specialist at the University Health Network's Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, told CBC News it is possible for someone to experience more intense pain months after an accident. 

"Usually, we say it transitions from acute pain to chronic pain in around three months," she said. 

Chronic pain is often, but not always, tied to muscle tension caused by psychological conditions like PTSD, Furlan said.

However, she also noted it's generally very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of chronic pain symptoms. 

"It's not easy because there is this lag time," she said.

In a statement provided to CBC Toronto, a WSIB representative said the board could not comment on Squire's case due to privacy considerations, adding that if someone experiences a work-related injury but returns to work without any wage loss, they would not be eligible for loss-of-earning payments.

Zakia Jahan, a labour and employment lawyer based in Ottawa, told CBC Toronto that one of the most common barriers she's seen in WSIB cases is people not reporting the accident soon enough.

"It's very very important to get medical attention right away," she said. "The longer you wait … the higher the possibility that the WSIB will say, 'Well, your symptoms are not linked to your workplace accident.'"

Jahan recommended that anyone injured at work see a doctor immediately even if they don't feel symptoms right away. 

She also noted that there are two more levels of appeal at WSIB beyond asking the case manager to reconsider. The next step is to bring the matter to the Appeal Services Division of WSIB. And if that is denied, another option is to go to the Workplace Insurance and Appeals Tribunal, which includes independent decision-makers.

No charges in hit and run

To make matters worse for Squire, she said she's frustrated that no charges have been laid against the driver who hit her.

A police report was filed the day of the collision, including the driver's licence plate number, which was provided by an eyewitness. Squire said the Toronto Police Service (TPS) investigated the owner of the vehicle, who told them he wasn't involved in the collision. As a result, police told Squire in December they were closing her case due to a lack of additional evidence. 

However, she noted police were supposed to gather surveillance video from a nearby home that may have captured the hit and run. 

"I said, 'Well, what about the video footage that you were supposed to get?' And [they] asked me if I had it and I said, 'But that's your job, right?'"

Investigators did reach out to the homeowners in August, Squire said, but they were informed that the security video gets deleted automatically after 30 days.

In an email to CBC Toronto, TPS confirmed officers conducted a video canvass at the time of the collision and that "there was a follow up as it pertains to video." Police also said they're taking no further action right now on the case. 

More protections needed for crossing guards 

ASP Security Services is one of two companies contracted by the City of Toronto for crossing guard services. The company employs Squire and other guards in North York and Etobicoke. 

In a statement to CBC Toronto, the security company indicated that incidents involving vehicle strikes are "extremely rare" and that only two occurred in 2022. 

But the acting president of CUPE Local 5519, the union that represents ASP's crossing guards, told CBC Toronto that dangerous situations caused by aggressive drivers are regular occurrences.

"We are there to protect. We're doing our job to protect them, to protect the vulnerable sector of society," said Myra Chico, a crossing guard herself since 2021. "But then what we do is face death from vehicle operators who [don't] want to recognize our job as safety providers."

She's calling on the city to provide more protections including cameras and speed bumps at crosswalks, especially those located near schools. 

A city official told CBC Toronto, it requires its vendors "to provide the necessary personal protective equipment to all crossing guards, which includes a reflective, double-sided, hand-held stop sign, a reflective safety vest, an ID and a whistle."

Squire, who has recently returned to work in a supervisory role that is less physically demanding, agreed that more protections are needed to keep crossing guards safe. 

She also has a message for drivers. 

"We're there to make the community safe ... So just stop," she said.

"Give the children the chance to get to where they need to go. That's all we ask."


Tyler Cheese reports for CBC Toronto. You can contact him at or @TylerRCheese on Twitter.